Saturday, April 10, 2010

Going Gray, by Anne Kreamer

"Going Gray" is a book that is both superficial and deep. Kreamer begins by telling how she had an epiphany while looking at a photo of herself, noticing for the first time that her hair color looked artificial and much too dark for a woman her age. She investigated and did a lot of soul searching, finally forgoing the dyes and letting her hair return to its natural gray. This doesn't necessarily speak to anything deeper than hair color, but when you think about it, there may be no signifier that packs more punch as to how we want others to think of us than the color of our hair.

I found this book, no surprise here, on my hairdresser's counter. Or maybe that is surprising, since a hairdresser has a vested interest in keeping her clients coming back for more expensive hair color! I usually add up the costs while my head covered in goo and I'm sneezing over the fumes.

Going Gray is filled with an assortment of coif-related trivia. For instance, I didn't know that the percentage of people dying their hair has gone up dramatically in the past few decades. When I read Kreamer's take on the outdated looks some people continue to sport -- that people become "frozen" in the look in which they felt they looked their best -- that sounded just right. I smiled, remembering my Dad in his toupee and 1970s leisure suit and how, even though he has thankfully moved on, I occasionally still see that look on men that came of age back then.

Kreamer connects the fact that hair coloring is so ubiquitous these days that it reflects society's collective anxiety -- hair dye as a reflection of our need to be in control, and to show off that control to the rest of the world. She reflects on this in her conclusion, coming clean as a borderline OCD control freak who, despite ten years of therapy, becomes able to identify the problem, but never strong enough to overcome it. By going gray, Kreamer finally feels able to relinquish some of the control in other areas of her life, too.

I have been dying my hair for decades, since the first grays started streaking through. I haven't seen my true hair color in so long I'm even not sure what it would look like, but a check at the roots leads me to believe that my hair would be completely gray! Perhaps it's time for me to call it quits and give up the expensive, time-consuming, and no doubt toxic, chemicals of hair dye. It's scary to think about doing this, though; I imagine I would look much older. But come to think of it, I am older! And, really, why would I want to look younger than my actual age? Sure, every year brings with it some new sign of the body's slow disintegration, but it also undeniably brings with it more experience and, if I may be so bold to say so, wisdom. "Going Gray" was a nice, light, yet thought-provoking read, as within this superficial topic there are many layers of meaning.

And under the category of "Who Knew?", gray hair may be the newest fad! Below is a link to a recent article in The New York Times, that features models, and other fashionable women in their twenties, who have decided the gray hair is in!

No comments:

Post a Comment